Spring

Exchange Student in Japan: Local Tokyo Tour with Huber.’s Tomodachi Guides

Mei

Writer

Hi! My name is Mei and I am an exchange student in Japan from Canada. I’ve been living in Tokyo for the past 8 months and have been to most of the main places. But, I feel like I’ve been missing out on real Japanese experiences. I heard of Huber from a friend and thought the service had a good philosophy. Huber’s main concept is “Tomodachi Guide”, which means a local friend will show you around. I wanted to experience local Japan, so I decided to request a Tomodachi Guide!

Getting a Tomodachi Guide

I went to Huber’s website to request a guide. The front page of Huber was attractive and easy to navigate.

 

I clicked “start here” on the website and was lead to a chat that asked me about my wants and needs for the trip. It took me only 3 minutes to get through the questions!

 

After I put in my request to see local areas in Tokyo, I got some messages from local guides! They sent draft plans of our trip together. Each guide made a personalized plan for me. The three draft plans I received were amazing! The draft plan I liked the most was for a place called “Shimokitazawa”, which is a hip neighbourhood in Tokyo.

 

I really wanted to go to Shimokitazawa for a long time. Many Japanese bands I like performed in Shimokitazawa in their indie days. Moreover, I really like to buy secondhand clothes, which is famous in Shimokitazawa.

I thought Marin and I could get along after checking her profile. So, I sent Marin a message about the plan she sent me. She was really polite and explained everything clearly. The back-and-forth between Marin and I went well, so we decided to go to Shimokita together!

Meeting Up

We met up at a nearby train station, because I’m already familiar with Japan’s train system. However, if you need pick-up, I’m sure they would come to where you are staying!

I immediately felt like Marin and Hanako, the other guide, were so friendly! We went around town and chatted about everything from ourselves to our interests, our dreams, and more. We even took a lot of selfies together.

It was so fun. Marin, Hanako, and I had so much in common, so it didn’t feel strange even though we only met that afternoon! I really felt like friends with them.

Thrift shopping was fun with them. Both Marin and Hanako showed me some cool thrift shops and a nice “mall” with lots of handcrafts.

Always Let Locals Choose!

The three of us love to eat so we ate a lot, especially street food. For example: meat-wrapped rice balls, pancake pie, avocado bowl, and more! The guides asked me about what I wanted to eat prior to the trip. Marin and Hanako’s food choices were perfect, and I would’ve never been able to find them myself.

The timing of our trip was perfect too, because we got to try some limited edition sweets. Above is a limited strawberry pancake pie. Below on the left is sakura soda, which had real pickled cherry blossoms inside! It was so good and perfect for a picture! During each season, most restaurants and cafe’s offer a seasonal menu. I want to come back and try summer or winter sweets next time!

Marin and Hanako even took me to a poutine restaurant. Poutine is a Canadian food which I really missed while in Japan, so I was overjoyed to eat it with them in Tokyo!

I was moved by this small gesture of kindness. I nostalgically told them about my life back home while enjoying Canadian food. Hanako actually went to my hometown in Canada in the summer! I told both of them they could come to my house in Canada anytime.

Thanks to Hanako and Marin, I could even talk to the restaurant staff, who noticed that I was Canadian. He told me the story of how the poutine restaurant was established. I thought it was a very interesting story! If I went myself I wouldn’t have been able to interact with the local staff.

To finish off the night, we went to an avocado-themed restaurant. I love avocados, so it was delicious! We even tried an avocado smoothie. I want to drink it everyday!

Avocados made us so full, so the three of us struggled to finish the last few bites of our dinner. This was funny. By the way, I ended up finishing the avocado!

Come Back for Tengu Festival..?!

I heard about a festival that takes place in February called the Shimokita Tengu Matsuri. I really wanted to go, but I found out too late. It’s about welcoming spring by throwing beans at the Oni! Actually, it takes place before setsubun, which is literally about the division of seasons. Setsubun is a long-standing tradition in Japan.

Shimokitazawa is the perfect place for a festival because you can enjoy the charm of the neighbourhood before or after the festival! I think Shimokita Tengu Matsuri suits those who not only are interested in the hip vibes of Shimokitazawa itself, but also Japanese culture, traditions, and festivals.

About Shimokitazawa

If you are interested in going to Shimokitazawa too, take the Odakyu or Keio line to Shimokitazawa station! It’s about 7 minutes from Shinjuku station and 3 minutes from Shibuya station.

Become a Tomodachi Guide at Huber!

I really like Huber’s service, so I registered as a guide for Huber! The registration process was easy, and they have English support as well. I want to share good experiences like the one I had with tourists coming to Japan. By the way, Hanako and I went guiding together! These are the details of the plan we sent.

The trip was so fun. Not only could I show the parts of Tokyo that I love, like Shibuya crossing, but I also found some new spots to go to! I felt like I became tomodachi with my guests. The guests that Hanako and I guided even bought this strawberry daifuku a gift for us! I was so happy to receive it. It’s experiences like this that make me happy to know about Huber. If you live in Japan, why don’t you become a Tomodachi Guide too?

Closing Remarks

Huber’s service was perfect for me, even though I’ve been living in Tokyo for 8 months already! I wish I found Huber earlier to see some of the winter scenery in Northern Kanto. I will definitely recommend my friends coming to Japan to apply for a Tomodachi Guide.

The day I spent with Marin and Hanako was so fun because I could try a lot of food, see things that only locals knew about, and made two good friends! We exchanged our SNS information, so I’m sure we will meet again in Japan, Canada, or maybe somewhere else.

All in all, I am glad I went to Shimokitazawa with Marin and Hanako! Thanks to them, I have come to love Shimokitazawa.

SKETCH OUT YOUR TRIP! -how to consult Japanese festivals with locals

For Those Interested in Matsuri…

I applaud you for making it all the way to the end of my article! For those more interested in Matsuri details, especially traditional spring festivals, read on.

Anton has been living in Japan for more than a decade. To refresh himself from his busy life in Tokyo, Anton wanted to go to areas with nature and culture. Finally, he decided to go with local Japanese guides to a traditional Matsuri in Kamakura. Please read about Anton’s experience if you are interested in the lives of foreigners in Japan or Japanese spring festivals!

Click the link below for more details!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3935/

Mei

Mei is currently studying in Tokyo. When she’s not reading about politics, she is planning her next local adventure.

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